Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unemployment is an opportunity of a Lifetime

“Hunger is not the worst feature of unemployment; idleness is”. Author Unknown

In recent times, one of the most important issues in the world market has been that of unemployment. Each and every country and its people have been a victim of this issue and are struggling to somehow manage, survive and go through this extremely rough period. Experienced people are losing their jobs, the recently hired are being laid off and the already unemployed see negligible hope of being employed and going forward with their lives in a positive direction.

In these testing times, unemployment is arguably one of the toughest and depressive situations that one could ever experience. Only a person who goes through it knows how difficult and hard it is. It is a situation where people lose their identities, feel useless and fall to the lowest ebbs of depression.

Thomas Carlyle says,

“A man willing to work, and unable to find work, is perhaps the saddest sight that fortune's inequality exhibits under this sun”.

It is a time where there are financial losses, loss of an opportunity to gain more experience, loss of peace of mind, loss of extremely valuable time and most importantly, a loss of one’s sanity.
In these circumstances, people tend to lose hope to an extent where they start thinking that there is nothing left in their lives and this situation would remain forever. Therefore, to survive in such testing times is a huge challenge in itself where people not only need to have the right attitude and the right mindset in order to prevent the damage that this lean period brings but also to convert this into a positive aspect and to be taken as an opportunity of a lifetime. People need to act and take this life situation in their hands and do something that is beneficial for them in the long haul.

Having been through this horrid time myself, I know how tough it is. During my ordeal, I figured different ways through which this period can be passed with much more positivity and enthusiasm. Let us see what some of the different things there are that we can do to use this time constructively so that we can change and propel our lives in a positive and meaningful direction.

1. Give time to your family

First of all, this precious time that GOD has gifted you with must be utilized to the fullest and should be spent with your family as much as possible. Life is hectic and tough and we seldom get the time to spend quality time with our families and to show them our respect, love and affection. Such times should be taken as a golden opportunity to let your loved ones know how much you love them.

2. Relax, Rejuvenate and enjoy your time

One should try to relax, take the time off and rejuvenate. Exercise, go for a walk, enjoy nature, observe the creations of GOD, energize yourself, sleep well, eat well and take care of your mind, body and soul. Refresh yourself and make up for all the stress you have been taking all these years while you have been working hard and providing for your families and for yourself. Enjoy the pleasures of life and be thankful.

3. Improve existing skills

Take the time to learn and improve your existing skills. Use the time to cover up your weaknesses. Attend seminars and workshops, learn computer skills, practice and improve languages, complete distant academic courses and refresh the existing skills. Once you utilize this time to the best of your abilities, you would be able to put them to use and in practice as soon as you get your feet into a new challenge. The hard times will not remain forever and these skills will take you a long way, personally as well as professionally.

4. Indulge in healthy activities

Pursue your passion and play a sport that you have always wanted to learn. Maybe you have lost touch of the sport you had loved in school and never got the time to pursue once you got into your practical life. Fall in love with that sport all over again, be a kid, enjoy the little successes and feel proud of your skills and abilities. I assure you, it feels great.

5. Conduct a SWOT analysis of your life

Carry out a SWOT analysis of your life. Map out on a piece of paper, all the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats that you have in your life. Use the strengths and opportunities to your benefit and work towards reducing and gradually eliminating the weaknesses and threats that you feel will hinder your progress and will become road blocks in your life.

6. Create a Life Plan

Use this time to decide what you want in life. Decide, plan, develop an action plan, see, believe and you are well on your way. As the great people say, ‘Seeing is Believing’. Once you know what you want to achieve in life, you automatically know what needs to be done in order to achieve your goals and your wants. Design your life and develop smaller goals, the attainment of which will lead to your larger goals in life. Slowly work towards your goals one by one and a day will come when you would have finally reached your goals and that sense of achievement will give you the contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction that you would never have experienced in your entire life.

7. Find your spiritual self

Get close to your GOD, find your spiritual self and move in a direction that will do you good in the present world and the world hereafter. Use this time to pray, to contemplate, to think, to thank and to talk to GOD. Believe me, you go one step towards GOD and GOD will come 10 steps towards you. You will differentiate between right and wrong, you will have a clearer conscience, you will be happier, your mind, body and soul will be at peace and you will discover a whole new side of yourself that you had never known.

8. Discover the purpose of your life

Everyone human being has been sent on earth to accomplish a certain purpose in life. Discover that purpose of your life, ask the questions, look for the answers, work towards your purpose and I am sure you will accomplish the purpose you have been designed to accomplish.

9. Work on your personal development

Like professional development, one must also work on continuous personal development. This is a development and improvement that should never stop at any stage of life. This is a process that should go on until the end of life. Strive to live a balanced life, balance all the aspects of life and remember that there is always room for improvement no matter how good you are.

10. Keep looking for better opportunities

Last but not the least, keep looking for better opportunities. Without your sincere efforts and hard work in anything you do in life, you will not reach your destination. You put in the effort and GOD will take care of the rest. Believe in GOD and the world shall be yours.

The above mentioned points are not by any means the be all and end all of discovering life. There is a lot more to it. It is different for different people and personalities and it is your job to find ways that will best be of benefit to you and your well being.

So keep working hard, keep a positive mind set, look for good in the bad, the positive in the negative, opportunity in the difficulty, light in the dark and you shall convert catastrophe into harmony. GOOD LUCK!

Creating Balance is Creating Success

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony”. Thomas Merton

One of the most important aspects of our existence is having a balance in life. It is common sense that creating and maintaining a balance in anything we do is extremely important. However, this is rarely the case. Life is tough, hard, hectic and busy where everyone is running after their own set of goals, desires and wishes. No one has time for their friends, their families, their own selves and even their GOD. Everyone has their auto pilot switched on and they just keep on going on and on until it is too late to realize what they have missed out on.

It is only after the damage is done that we become aware of what has been missing and what we have been neglecting all throughout our lives. Therefore, it is important that we identify the areas of life that need to be taken care of. Once these areas have been identified, we then set our targets and see where our strengths and weaknesses lie. It is essential that we know what needs to be done and then it is our duty to be conscious of these facts and implement them in our daily lives. You will see that once we start doing all the right things, it gives us major confidence as we feel complete as human beings and improve and prove ourselves better then our surroundings. Our target should always be to become better and superior at whatever we do in life.

It is important to note that all areas of our lives are interconnected and interwoven. If one aspect of our life is neglected, it will affect another aspect of our life and therefore, the balance will be broken. It is more like a table standing on 4 legs. Even if one leg is damaged or broken, the whole table loses its balance and is useless. Similar are our lives.

Haider Al-Mosawi’ writes: “You can advance your career by having good social connections and you can enhance your family life by having good health and vitality.”

“Your family life can also suffer if you are neglecting your health and live in a state of exhaustion.”

There are different aspects of life that need to be balanced. You can also depending on your preferences and priorities change the order of these or even reduce or add more aspects to better understand and better control your lives. I have personally divided the aspects of my life into 10 divisions. These include the following:

1. Health & Fitness
2. Mental development and Education
3. Work, Career and Finances
4. Home & Family
5. Social Life and Relationships
6. Life Purpose and Contribution
7. Character, Integrity, Ethics and Virtues
8. Daily Habits and Routines
9. Emotional Control and Development
10. Spiritual and Personal development

Looking at the above, we see that these divisions more or less cover all aspects of our lives. In order to simplify life, we only need to focus on these 10 factors. The lesser the aspects the easier it is to simplify life. Even if you add more aspects, those will more or less always fall under the above categories so it is better to stick to less yet cover every aspect.

To start off with, attach a certain percentage to each and every of the above aspects. For example, think what level of accomplishment you want to reach in every aspect and where you stand at present. If you are satisfied you can give 90% satisfaction in that area and if you feel that you have not quite reached there yet, you can maybe say 50%.

Once that’s done, you know which areas you are satisfied with and which areas need improvement. Then slowly we need to start working on the aspects that are not right. As we commence balancing the rest of the components of our lives, they help in achieving even better results in the other components. We start to feel that our life is under better control and we feel comfortable and confident within ourselves. We start performing better at work, our behavior with colleagues and family improves dramatically, we are relaxed as our guilty conscience has a sudden relief and we start to have more confidence in our way of life. All this gradually converts into a calmness and peace within our minds and soul. This positivity and change takes us in a constructive direction and ultimately has a huge effect on our overall happiness, success and helps us enhance our life to an altogether higher level.

We all need goals and a particular direction in life. We need to have these goals created in all the different aspects. We have certain major goals to attain and then we develop smaller steps, actions and achievements that will combine together to help us obtain the final goal.

Personally, taking the above mentioned components into consideration, the smaller goals that will help me reach my final goals include things like, I need to exercise daily and reach a certain weight by a certain deadline. Similarly I have my goals mapped out as to what education I want, what skills I want achieve, what financial status I need to obtain, how I want to treat my family and what kind of relationships I want to have with them, my social life, my purpose of life (like contributing to the world through my writing and by helping the poor), the way I want to live my daily life, the principles and virtues I want to live by, the character I want to have, the closeness I want to have with my GOD and the improvement that I constantly need to make every day to make my life a life worthwhile.

When assessing my life, I assess my day. When I see that my day includes work, learning and development, health, 3 healthy meals, prayers, social life, time for hobbies and my passions, my family, friends, daily routine and chores, my spiritual and personal development and that all these components are carried out with integrity, honesty, values, ethics and good character, it gives me the greatest pleasure in the world to know that I am striving to live a balanced life and once this much needed balance is obtained, everything starts to fall in place. I will finish by quoting the following quote that summarizes the whole message.

“Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them”. Thomas Kinkade

Achieving Targets

Life goes on unabated without let or hindrance, be it good or bad. We grow from infancy to adolescence to youth to middle age and then comes old age and eventual departure. There is no stopping and the vagaries of time are known to all and sundry.

As is known that we need to plan our lives because if we do not have a plan then it is a life devoid of direction, a life tending to go haywire which can lead in any way, a way good or bad. In order to have a direction we require to have a purpose, an aim and an eventual target in mind.
Once we decide what our target in life is and which way we want to move then it becomes a bit easy for us to make plans, to take decisions, to analyze our weaknesses and strengths as then they are all geared towards achieving a certain target.

Planning, working and eventual achievement of this achievement can be difficult, but once you have prepared yourself, done your planning and since everything is now directed in a given direction, things should start falling in place, but do they? No, they don’t fall in place as pieces of puzzle, things become complicated and you get frustrated, dejected and stressed as things are not working out the way you had planned. We have all heard the saying “ Man proposes, God disposes.”

Bearing the above scenario in mind, we have a plan gone berserk; we are lost and are not beginning to lose direction. In all these happenings, beyond our control, we start losing sight of our eventual target, as we get involved in damage controls whereas we should have done and taken care of issues earlier under the surmise of preventive measures, but again, what are we, mere pawns in the wheel of this great universe are.

Given our frustrations, disappointments and stresses, we continue to struggle, we do not give up and we continue trying to make things work according to plan. Here is where we go wrong!
We are ignoring the basic necessity of a plan and this is to make adjustments as you go on. No plan is fool proof, you need to reassess, step back, review and adjust. Or in other words, show flexibility; never ever forget the eventual aim that we started with. If we do not adjust, we will keep on getting frustrated, stressed out and we will start thinking negatively, which will affect all parts of our life, including our personal and family life. The fault lies not with the plan, but with us, as we forget the target, get involved in problem solving and refuse to be flexible and make adjustments.

We should take cue out of the way a river flows. It has a target to fall into the sea from its original point of origin. In order to achieve its aim, it goes around cities, mountains, forests, thus making its own way. If it does not, it will destroy forestation, flood land and make it useless, destroy human life and habitat. The river achieves its aim by being flexible and not by being stubborn and obstinate.

We should act the same way, by being flexible, ready to make adjustments and not to get stuck with a given plan. The aim and target should always be kept in mind because that is the ultimate goal.

This will help us in achieving the end result we desired, whatever they may be and not get stressed, fatigued and frustrated if things do not go according to plan. Let us be innovative, flexible and ready for all eventualities as the ultimate is having your cake and eating it too.
Having said and explained the benefits of being flexible in our planning, I would like to mention here that this trait is a very valuable trait if one can set aside his or her ego. Flexibility can be applied to anything we do in everyday life.

I have always tried to be flexible in my life as this was one of the first lessons taught to me by my father when I was still a child. I did not comprehend it in the beginning, nor as I grew up. I was strong willed and felt that the world was at my feet. I was good at everything I did; in studies, in sports, debates etc. at school and high school. I felt that I could do anything I want, the way I want, but then things started to happen in the opposite of what I had planned and foreseen. This lead to me getting depressed initially, then I decided to fight and more of these helped as I started to get rebellious and argumentative leading to further problems. All this started to affect my personality, behavior and my general outlook, then I returned towards God and suddenly I recalled what my father had told me when I was still a kid; I remembered “Flexibility”.

I began to think of ways to get out of my situation, continued and enhanced my contact with God and tried to be flexible and reasonable. As time went by I started to notice my different approaches starting to work and the jigsaw pieces started to fall in place and eventually I sorted out my problems and issues.

Going by hindsight, I now realize that I was wrong in trying to bulldoze my way as I kept coming up against one hurdle after another, leading to stress, depression, rebelliousness. How wrong all that was, I realize now. Had I shown flexibility in the beginning, I would have been spared all the anguish and pressure. I have learnt my lesson, but the hard way.

Let us take cue out of my own personal experiences and move towards making adjustments and being flexible as these will help in achieving our end goals as that is what we strive for and that is what counts in the end.

Positive Attitude is the Key to Success

“You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you”. Brian Tracy

When we observe our surroundings, the environment and the people living within and around us, we learn that the world is a difficult place to live. It is not an easy task for anyone on this earth to survive and live a peaceful life. Wherever we see we find people struggling and fighting each day and each moment in order to achieve their goals and to be successful. Every human being has their set of problems and difficulties which they are trying to overcome in order to obtain what they are striving to obtain.

This constant struggle and all the obstacles that occur at every step we take become a huge cause of depression and people tend to lose heart. Then the only way to go ahead is to just keep persevering with the tasks at hand so that you could progress and finally achieve what you have set your foot out for and not leave anything half way through. At this moment, the power and force that drives us is our attitude. A positive attitude is something that makes or breaks a person. If you have a positive outlook on life, you will always look at the positive side of things.

Looking for the positives in everything you do and see will ensure that you are content and happy and live a life full of optimism and hope. Hope is of course what we all live by as no one knows what GOD has kept in store for us. Therefore, there is absolutely no use being negative and spreading the negativity around. By doing this we will not only damage ourselves but also damage our surroundings and the people we are related to in some way or the other.

Problems are there and they will remain there and will never go away. We will solve one problem and another one will arise, then another and another. This is a cycle that will continue throughout our lives until we live. Therefore, it is important that we face this life and the difficulties that arise with a positive attitude and with good will and enthusiasm. It is all about how we view the world. When things are not going good and everything seems messed up, it is only our positive attitude that keeps us going and ensures us that it is just a phase that will pass.

Thomas Jefferson says:

“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

It is actually all about our mindset. If we decide that everything is good and look for the positives, we will find that things are actually great. Similarly, if we want to see all negative, then we would find negatives and discrepancies in even the positive things in life. Hence, it is important to keep a positive mindset and outlook on life.

Kahlil Gibran says:

“Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens”.

What needs to be done has to be done. We can either choose to do it with an unthankful and ungrateful attitude or we can do it with a smile on our face, but we have to do it in either case. Therefore, the obviously right way to go about it is to do it in a positive light and with the hope that this hard time will pass and everything will be sorted out eventually. We just need to be patient, wait for the right time and believe in our GOD.

There is a famous saying that states:

“Seeing someone happy does not mean that everything in his/her life is perfect. Rather he or she has chosen to overlook the imperfections in their life”.

That is exactly the way how one should go about life. Humans are imperfect and therefore the world is imperfect and this is something we should learn early in our lives. If we do not accept this fact and keep getting depressed and angry about what people or external factors do to us, it will all eventually lead to total depression and total disaster.

We cannot control others and we cannot change others. The only thing that we can control and change is our attitude. Once we alter our own attitude, the world all of a sudden looks a rosy place and everything seems to fall into place.

As human beings, we need to learn to be thankful and happy in all situations. No matter what the circumstances, we should always give it our best shot and should try to see things in a positive light. Positivity literally takes all the unhappiness, pain and negativity away from our life. We always have a choice. There is nothing in this world that happens to us without our will and desire. If we feel good, it is because we chose to feel good and if we feel bad, it is because that’s the way we want to feel.

Similarly, attitude is a choice that we need to make. We can choose to alter our attitude towards positivity or negativity and all that happens to us is because of us only. We cannot blame anyone else for the way we feel and the way we see the world. All that really matters is the fact that we give it our best shot and should not have any regrets.

So please, keep a positive attitude on life, work hard towards your goals and keep the positive attitude going under all circumstances. Eventually, we will all reach our destination and achieve our desired goals and the world will be a much better place.

In the end, there is one absolutely brilliant saying that sums up everything:

“"Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellow man, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” William A. Ward